Does this time of year make you feel a little…blah? Are you fighting that saggy, lethargic let’s-go-back-to-bed-and-try-this-again-tomorrow feeling? If so, you are not alone. Lots of factors, including dreary weather, leftover holiday weight gain and the beginning of a new year can weigh us down.

Try these four ways to beat the blues:

Exercise

I know, I know. When you feel like a slug, you don’t want to move. You want to curl up on the coach with a good book and 15 or 20 cupcakes. But exercise releases all those lovely feel-good hormones and helps bring back energy levels. To gain energy, you have to expend energy. It’s a bummer, but there it is.

Evaluate

Take a few minutes and do a quick inventory of your life. Doing this will help you pinpoint where the blues are coming from. Make a list of 7 areas: Financial, Career, Family, Physical, Social, Intellectual, Spiritual. On a scale of one to ten, rate how satisfied you are with each of these areas.

Pick the one with the lowest score and set a goal on how you can improve this area. It may mean sitting down with a spouse or boss and discussing ways to make things better. Simply taking action in one area of your life will help you feel more in control and less like a rowboat adrift in a storm.

Plan something

Sounds simple, right? If you can plan a vacation, do it. Not only does the actual getaway renew our energy, but the anticipation also helps rejuvenate us. We need new things–and things we enjoy doing–to look forward to. Even if you can’t escape for a week or more, plan a mini-getaway for a weekend. A friend of mine has a handicapped son and can’t get away for long periods. But she plans regular “play dates” with friends to get away for a day. Just being in new surroundings lifts our spirits and helps us renew our energy.

Count your blessings

It is easy to get overwhelmed by all that’s terrible in our world. Sometimes just reading the newspaper can make me cry. To combat all this negativity, jot another list, of all the things you’re thankful for. Be specific. And if you’re honest, the list will be longer than you expected. Just by looking for the good, you’ll be able to put the bad in perspective.

And when all else fails, eat chocolate. Somehow, that always lifts my spirits.

Those are my top ways to beat the winter blues. I’d love to hear yours…